Hi. Bifid Bos Taurus spines do turn up occasionally for no predicted reason.
I published one from Roman eastern England. Although there is a very slight chance that it derives from an animal imported from other parts of the Roman Empire, there is no other animal evidence for contact and there were no heavy cattle horncores either. I think it's just a chance occurrence in this case. When there are several individuals, however, then there may well be some taxonomic significance. I don't know the link with horn type.
Stallibrass, S. 1983 A bifid thoracic vertebral spine from a bovine in the Roman Fenland. J. of Archaeological Science 10: 265-266
Dr Sue Stallibrass
English Heritage Archaeological Science Adviser for North-West England,
Department of Archaeology (SACE),
Hartley Building, Brownlow Street,
University of Liverpool,
email: [log in to unmask]
direct phone: 0151 794 5046
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From: Analysis of animal remains from archaeological sites [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Veerle Linseele
Sent: 05 September 2007 09:17
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ZOOARCH] Mystery Bone
I am interested in the finds from sub-Saharan Africa of thoracic
vertebra with bifurcated neural spines mentioned by Haskel Greenfield.
Are there any publications? I have found an example myself at a site
in northern Nigeria, but which is recent (19th century AD). As far as
I know this is the only find for West Africa.
I was aware that the bifurcation occasionally can be found in Bos
taurus as well, but did not know about the link with horn size,
mentioned by Richard Meadow. Is there any literature on that? I have
studied a burial of at least 15 individuals of longhorn cattle from
Egypt. The date of the burial is as yet unclear. It was in a Middle
Kingdom Cemetery but some pot sherds inside of it suggest a far more
recent data. The skeletons seemed to be complete but were not in
anatomical position. Of the thoracic vertebra 6 had bifid neural
spines. I posted some pictures on Bone Commons. I am now wondering if
the bifurcations could be related to the large horn size of the
animals? The feature has also been mentioned by Grigson as possibly
occurring in native African cattle.
Thanks for any remarks!
For the Nigerian example see:
Linseele, V. (2007). Archaeofaunal remains from the past 4000 years in
Sahelian West Africa. Domestic livestock, subsistence strategies and
environmental changes. Cambridge Monographs in African Archaeology 70.
BAR International Series 1658. Archaeopress, Oxford.
Center for Archaeological Sciences
Katholieke Universteit Leuven
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